COVIDiares: From quranteasing to pandemic pleasing

If you’re an avid reader of my blog then you’ll know that I started COVID-eo dating a guy that I met on Hinge back around mid-March (here is the post for reference.) Nine weeks in I wrote another piece giving a quick update on how things were going and bringing to light some of my “what if” questions in advance of us (eventually) meeting face to face. It’s now been just over 3 months, so with lockdown eased up and 12 video dates later… you better believe we finally met in the flesh! Hurrah!

It’s been an interesting journey so far, particularly with the video dating aspect as that was completely new territory for me. Sharing a similar story with many others, lockdown introduced a shift in the dating landscape where users had to turn towards platforms such as FaceTime or Zoom in order to connect with potentials. While some may have found it awkward or simply put their dating lives on pause, I found the experience to be very enjoyable and fulfilling. I certainly didn’t expect to be “dating” anyone during lockdown, let alone for so many weeks! My initial thought was that perhaps I’d have a couple of video dates before it gradually fizzling out.

Recap

From the get go I noticed straight away that our conversations naturally flowed with lots of laughter. Our dates quickly became a weekly thing, we were both comfortable and I found myself feeling more at ease with him as the weeks went by. It was nice to see his personality shine through via video, I felt like I managed to get a lot more out of this method of communication as opposed to messaging or a phone call; the interactions and facial expressions made a huge difference in building this connection. Another thing I appreciated was how open we were with each other; by sharing thoughts on how our date went, what we enjoyed and what we liked about each other — it was helpful to know that we were on the same page. The most impressive part above all, was the consistent effort put in from both sides, not only did we have our once-a-week dates but there was plenty of chit chat, banter and silly games in-between. It’s fair to say that he made lockdown a little more bearable for me.

First (not video) date

Our first date took place last Tuesday and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t feeling slightly nervous beforehand (and I’m not usually the nervous type!) No doubt it was more nerves of excitement than anything else. I mean with 3 months worth of build up and anticipation of seeing each other (especially during the last couple of weeks), the suspense was killing me slowly. In the back of my mind, I was confident that there’d be no awkwardness nor would we be any different to how we were over our Zoom calls. We were lucky to have sunshine for our park “drinkies” date (it rained for the rest of the week) so I kept my outfit fairly casual, I chucked on a t-shirt, skirt, trainers and my oversized glam sunglasses. 😎

I arrived at the meeting spot a few minutes earlier and dropped him a message… eeeek! The funniest part was when he messaged back saying he was couple of minutes away and asked me to send my location. Not long after, I noticed a little old man following Google Maps on his phone, heading directly towards me! Hahaha! Just so you know, that wasn’t him! But the next guy walking towards me definitely was! I had a quick scan of his outfit (standard procedure): casual check shirt, black jeans and vans — yeah, he got my stamp of approval for his park ensemble ✅ As he walked towards me, I couldn’t help but laugh, it felt kinda bizarre…in a positive way!

Getting our flirt on

Now I’m gonna to be straight and say that we broke the social distancing rules! I don’t think it even occurred to us because we went in for a hug and he gave me a kiss on the cheek. You know how I mentioned us being comfortable during our Zoom calls? It felt exactly the same except this time there was no laptop screen between us. We started chatting and I was tempted to link onto his arm… although on second thought, it was probably a bold move to make so early on! Didn’t want him to think I was a weirdo 🙈 Once we found a nice spot, I could feel the chemistry between us which wasn’t surprising as we’d been quite flirty during our dates. With so much eye contact, laughter and a few touchy feely moments… it seemed like we just clicked. Within an hour and a few G&Ts later, we were sat so ridiculously close together to the point where I thought “fuck it” and went in for a snuggle. At one point during our date, he was lying down on his front so I could crack his back 😂 Yeah I don’t know where that randomly came from… Anyway! Things turned up a notch as we placed a bet; basically if I lost then I had to give him a kiss (oldest trick in the book!) Firstly I’ll have you know that I won the bet. He’ll tell you otherwise because he’s a soo competitive. Either way, I wanted that kiss so was willing to take the “loss”. FYI – he’s a great kisser!

With all the fun and games going on; there was one thing we didn’t think through… public toilets! They were all bloody closed. I’m still confused about it until this day. Why do that? After dragging the poor guy around in circles, feeling confident that at least one set of toilets would be open, I was very wrong… and far from impressed. Luckily for him, he did his thing in a bush — that’s one advantage to having a penis. Unfortunately I wasn’t planning to water any plants so I made us Uber over to my sisters house, thank God she didn’t live too far and he probably thought I was such a diva at this point.

Hehe ;D

We continued on with our date at a local park and popped open the bottle prosecco we had left 🥂🍾 Up until the sun went in, we chilled, people watched, conversed and weren’t hiding the fact that we were checking each other out… a lot. Considering no restaurants or bars were open, he offered to make me dinner at his. Yeah I know what you’re thinking, and no, I didn’t think his only intention was to get me into bed.

After whipping up a meal with a glass of wine each we continued chatting. Eventually he swooped in and made the move. The kisses were fiery, I felt his hands running from my waist and up my skirt. As we continued kissing, he lifted me up and put me on the dining table. We were ready to go for it, however I wasn’t about to have sex on the table with his flatmate in the house! So we moved things into the bedroom and to be honest, for our first sex session, I had no complaints whatsoever. Them broad shoulders though, the strong facial hair, with a dominant streak and good balance of aggression and gentleness. I’d describe him as a proper manly man — in general and under the sheets. I ended up staying the night but we didn’t get much sleep. 😏

Discovering each other on an intimate level, showing each other’s bedroom tricks as well as having those cute, affectionate post-sex moments, the little kisses, the snuggles, the stroking, the spooning — it was all pleasurable. The next day we both had work so after some morning cuddles followed by intense sex I had to head off early but if we could have stayed in bed together, there’d be no question about it.

Second date?

Overall, the “first” date was memorable. Believe it or not, we’ve already had our second date involving coffee, a stroll with a few hugs and kisses. The lockdown phase put us in a position where we had to make the best out of an unusual situation. Personally speaking, I think having those 12 weeks to build a connection without the physical side of things was a blessing in disguise. I was quite guarded and slightly judgemental towards him at first but as I got to know him on a deeper level, I found him even more attractive in personality and appearance. I guess we were fortunate enough to have gotten along really well from day one, I’m particularly pleased that our virtual dates had translated in real life. From what I’ve witnessed so far, he seems like a really sound guy so I’ll have to see what happens! I promise to keep you posted folks!

Still waiting to be “swiped” off my feet…

In 2012 Tinder ushered in a new era in the history of romance and revolutionised the dating game. The introduction of the swipe left for a no and swipe right for a yes formula was quickly adopted by many other dating apps. With a mobile-first generation; the carefully put together profiles quickly lost out to photo-led profiles designed to be swiped through whilst on the go. It’s evident Tinder has racked up some impressive stats over the years — as it stands, users swipe 1.6 billion times a day across 190 countries! However, eight years since entering the market, it appears the once thriving “dependable wingmate” has gone from fringe novelty to a dating apocalypse.

As we become bound to the excitement of matches and neurochemical “rewards,” it’s no surprise that us online daters get hooked on these apps. Essentially, whenever “it’s a match” pops up on our screens, the brain releases a flurry of dopamine chemicals, giving us small bursts of happiness. While the swiping process is meant to help us discover potential romantic partners more effectively, it seems the excessive app usage and mindless swiping is weakening ties between individuals rather than fostering connections.

I’ve had the pleasure of letting Tinder, Bumble, OKCupid, POF, Hinge and Coffee Meets Bagel grace my iPhone’s home screen. I’ve also had the pleasure of deleting them… then reinstalling months later (😩) in hopes that something might actually come from it. Unfortunately it’s the same thing over and over — an exhaustive, repetitive, daily thumb-swiping exercise consisting of nothing more than three-second photo evaluations, half-hearted bio scans and a few dead-end conversations. Indeed, I’m not the only one that feels this way. According Badoo’s research with 5,000 British 18-30 year olds, 68% dislike swiping and matching based on appearances alone, claiming there’s very little going on when it comes to meaningful engagement.

So what are dating apps doing to address the low quality interactions and improve matches?

In the last couple of years, several apps started experimenting with video features. In 2018, Badoo introduced “Badoo Live” — allowing users to receive messages from interested parties while live streaming. A principle similar to Facebook Live, the feature also offers the ability to watch in playback mode. Once a match is made, users can start a live video chat with each other within the app. And with the recent growth in video dating during the pandemic, many apps capitalised on video-chat. Hinge unveiled the “Date from Home” option to facilitate safe dating as well as aid users in transitioning from message ping pong to a virtual date.

By allowing people’s real personalities to shine through, it not only solves the problems of misrepresentative photos, catfishing and delayed responses; but video could also increase your chances of having a personable connection sooner and save time and energy to focus on dates that you’re genuinely excited about. When two individuals hold face-to-face communication (whether physically present or over video call) — the use of voice, gestures, body language and facial expressions help to build stronger relationships. This particular form of exchanging personal information is known as “Dyadic Communication” — and due to its intimate nature, this practice simply cannot afford to be impersonal.

So if we’re really looking to make meaningful connections then perhaps now is the time to start embracing video within dating apps. Many of us will find the thought of recording ourselves rather daunting but we need to keep in mind that dating should also be about having fun, stepping out of our comfort zones, building confidence and utilising our time more effectively. If we can begin tweaking our profiles and incorporating video, I’m confident that the matches will be of higher quality. No doubt it will eradicate or at least reduce the snap judgements made, help us look past the heavily filtered photos and present users/ourselves in a more authentic light.

It’s worth mentioning that I’ll be trialling out a new video-only dating app called Oneder in the coming weeks. I’m looking forward to seeing what impact video-first will have from a user experience in comparison to the usual swiping apps, and of course, seeing what romantic potential it has to offer! Who knows… I might actually find “reel” love this time around – watch this space 😉

COVIDiaries: The 6 feet of separation

Firstly, I really hope everyone has coped okay during these turbulent times. Living in the midst of a pandemic and a lockdown is something that no one could have predicted. Socially and economically there have been a few cause for concerns. Many people have lost or feel terrified about the future of their jobs, some separated from and worried about loved ones, others craving freedom because home felt like their prison or those who are simply stuck indoors with little to no outdoor space. It hasn’t been easy for everyone to adjust to the “new normal”, which is why communicating, connecting, finding new hobbies and really making the most out of life’s simple pleasures is vital. We all need to muster the energy and enthusiasm to get through each day, and if we can refocus some of that energy on our own wellbeing and look out for others; then that’s always a great starting point to a more positive outlook.

Prior to the outbreak, I had been speaking to a few people across Hinge, Bumble, OKCupid and Coffee meets Bagel just to curb my boredom. I went on a couple dates here and there, it was great fun but overall the vibe wasn’t quite right so things died out fairly quickly. There was one guy in particular that I matched with on Hinge. I specifically remember when I went through his profile, something about him just didn’t sit right with me. I mean, it’s likely I was being judgemental (we’re all human at the end of the day!) but he had this very “laddish” look about him. Bar that, he did send quite a funny ice breaker; and funny is always good in my eyes. But don’t get it twisted, funny does not win me over.

As we started talking, I probably put in about 55% effort. That’s my general rule of thumb, you need to see what the other person is about without going all in, and I think you can get a good enough gauge if you fire the right questions and carefully look at their responses. After a few days of talking, I sussed that he was quite a smooth talker, confident with a tendency to step on the line of cocky, witty, funny, fairly charming and quite direct. I’ve dealt with many guys alike in the past, some slightly worse than others and I’ve always ended up extremely unimpressed. My normal reaction would have been to not bother but I was quite intrigued with him mainly because I saw a little bit of my personality come through in his responses. Also the fact that I knew within myself that I needed to be more open minded! As with most guys I meet online, my guard is held extremely high. Most things that are said, I take with a pinch of salt. With this guy, my guard was up for a while… it still is to be honest but it has dropped a significant amount over time.

And almost 9 weeks later (to my suprise) we’re still talking, regularly. We have these weekly video calls which I find very pleasant and entertaining. I’d explain what happens during these calls but I’ll save the details for another post. I guess it’s nice to get dressed up and pretend I’m going out on a date (literally just chilling on my bed), though I must say my efforts of late have been on the decline! Clearly I’m getting far too comfortable! 😬

The most frustrating part is that we haven’t actually met! Timing has been unfortunate but nevertheless I’ve genuinely enjoyed getting to know him thus far. I’ve appreciated the reciprocation in terms of time and effort put in to build a connection. You’d think in lockdown, people would get tiresome of having to entertain a conversation knowing that it wouldn’t lead an actual date… at least not for a while, consequently throwing in the towel after a couple of weeks or so. I wouldn’t be shocked if people said they were video dating purely as a time filler.

With video calls it still feels like there’s a barrier between us. Even though we talk frequently, without the physical form, we’re only getting a small part of what we’re about. It’s a fact that 70% of our communication is done via body language. So I guess my concern now is not so much him being a “lad” but more so us meeting properly and having an actual date! I’m not a pessimist but I can’t help but wonder “what if…”

We finally meet and there’s zero chemistry!?
We don’t find each other attractive face to face!?
We find each other unbearable?!
He’s not really that talkative in person and it gets awkward?!
He’s not really that funny and it gets awkward?!


I am looking forward to meeting him (finally), we joked that it would take us about 10 dates until we’d eventually see each other and currently it appears we’re on track! However it goes, I’ll be sure to enjoy the date, have fun and a good laugh. Fingers crossed it’s not another kittenfish or brick wall situation! Who knows… but make sure you stay tuned for the next chapter of COVIDiaries! 😀

From “DTR” to “DTF”. This is your 2020 Dating Dictionary.

Swiping your way to be the real thing, or next fling, has left many people understandably bamboozled and frustrated. However, it doesn’t need to be that way. As the dating landscape has evolved, so has the language; especially when we’re focusing on the language of millennials. So to help navigate your way through the modern dating world, I’ve collated a handy little list on some of the latest terms, phrases and acronyms.

Benching
Think of sports. When you’re on the bench, you’re not actually playing but you’re still on the team, ready and waiting… until the coach decides to bring you back into play – which might not happen. The person who chose to bench someone will make minimal effort to keep you as an available option. This means a few texts here and there, making plans to meet up that never come to fruition.

Breadcrumbing
Now I don’t know if this dating tactic is slightly “better” or worse than “Ghosting”. Either way, it’s a term used when someone is doing exactly what I’ve described in my last two sentences above. Think morsels of bread… a trail of them. Each morsel representing a tiny slice of attention, ie. likes on Instagram photos, maybe a comment if you’re lucky, sporadic flirty text messages, making vague plans with you, setting up a date and cancelling, appears then reappears weeks later like nothing, usually an individual that’s all talk and no action. Breadcrumbs are for the birds – and you’re not one of them!

Catfishing
Personally I find this one creepy. It is the act of someone creating a fake profile to trick people into thinking they are somebody else. This sort of deception can be extremely damaging for victims. The dangers of being catfished include being tricked into a false relationship, fraud, extortion and cyberbullying among others. These people clearly have issues.

Cushioning
I’d describe this like… taking out insurance on your relationship incase it doesn’t work out and you’re scared of being alone. In essence, you’re creating a “cushion” for yourself to fall on. It can be one or several cushions. The tactic is getting people interested in you by having a chat or flirt, you’re building them up and giving them hope that something may occur in the future. Those who fall in the trap don’t even realise that there’s another person in the picture in the first place. It’s dishonest, disrespectful, and it’s something that emotionally insecure people do.

DTF
Down to Fuck. Need I say anymore?

DTR
Define the Relationship

FWB
Friends with Benefits

Gaslighting
It’s a form of psychological manipulation that causes the other party to question or doubt his or her sanity, feelings and judgment. The warning signs are hard to pick up early on but generally the people who do the gaslighting will be habitual and pathological liars. They will blatantly lie to your face and never back down or change their stories even when you call them out. They will also shift blame, twist conversations and be sweet when they want to smooth over a bad situation that they’ve caused. Sickos.

Ghosting
Now you see me, now you don’t. A person who ghosts will simply disappear from a relationship, or even a potential relationship with no explanation because it’s a quick and easy way out. No drama, no questions asked, no need to justify their behaviour, no need to deal with someone else’s feelings. Which brings me to the next term…

Haunting
When the person who was initially ghosting comes back to haunt you. The audacity!
Out of nowhere, they’ll (usually) slide into your DMs on social media and hit you up with the “Hey stranger!” bollocks – they just want to remind you they’re still there and very much alive. 😒

Kittenfishing
I’d describe this as a low-grade version of “Catfishing”. This person is excellent at presenting themselves unrealistically on their dating profile. With their skilled use of Adobe Photoshop, they’ll put up their heavily edited or upload old ass, throwback photos. They might lie about their age, height, lifestyle… all to seem more appealing to their matches.

So there you have it! The lingo of online dating, in a nutshell. Noticeably more absurd words and phrases are being introduced to explain each and every terrible occurrence. I’m sure there’s a good handful of jargon missing from my list (I think I’ve barely scratched the surface) but nonetheless I hope you found this post useful, if not amusing!

Are we burning ourselves out with all these matches?

Dating apps… there are far too many options out there (I’m talking apps and potentials), it’s been said that the golden rule of dating is to never put all your eggs in once basket. I’m not opposed to this, however if you’re not on your A-game or you’re a newbie to dating apps, this multi dating palaver can quickly become confusing, tedious, tiring and kind of messy! I know because I used to be a multi-dater once upon a time. I got to a point where I was having 3 dates a week. And no I’m not bragging here. It was fun and a great laugh at first, but I started pondering… is it really worth the time and energy? Is multi dating truly the way forward in search of a suitable partner?

Repeating the same small talk, asking the same questions to X number of guys over and over — while also trying to remember what they’ve/you’ve said… it’s far too exhausting! Keeping up with several conversations simultaneously meant that I had to leverage my organisational skills (good thing I’ve worked in Project Management). I used to have copy and paste questions (and answers) saved in my phone notes! Basically a bunch of templates. Cheeky huh? It was certainly an efficient way of doing things… but in hindsight, I probably shouldn’t have treated dating as if it were some kind of routine/chore! 😬

Multi dating = Multi confusion?

So I refrained from multi dating strategy and wanted to share my reasons why:

1. As mentioned above. Small talk. It’s necessary but painful… and I’d rather not multiply the number of times I have to do it.
2. I love getting glammed up… but truthfully it’s effort! For me, I’m either dressed to the nines to looking like a peasant — there’s no in-between!
3. When you’re not quite getting that spark and you have to drop the awkward “I’ve had a great time, you’re lovely but…” message. Eeek.
4. Constantly looking over my shoulder during a dating incase I get caught by one of the other dudes!
5. Guilt. I know I shouldn’t feel guilty but… I have a good heart! I feel so bad if a guy starts pouring their feelings out and it’s not mutual.

Some people start wondering whether the grass is greener on the other side. Dating then becomes a numbers game and everyone feels disposable. The problem is that this way of thinking doesn’t allow you to properly connect with someone — keeping one foot out the door ultimately means your efforts are half-hearted.

By the way, how you choose to date is totally up to you. I’m merely sharing my experiences 🙂 So why did I multi-date in the first place? Well I’m not going to lie, boredom was the main reason. But in the early stages of dating (especially when you don’t actually know what you’re looking for) it’s nice to connect with different types of people, have a laugh, suss out what type of people you gel with, what qualities/characteristics you like in a person and what you don’t. Then if you happen to share mutual interests, values, humour and enjoy each other’s company then great! I do think multi dating is ideal for those who prefer to keep it casual… although I know people who do it for the ego boost.

Providing that you’re someone who’s unsure about what you’re looking for, here are some other reasons why multi dating can be a good idea:

1. It prevents you from becoming too attached (if that’s your dating style).
2. You won’t feel the pressure or need to rush things.
3. You’ll have a clearer, more rational observation of individual traits you like and dislike.

Why do you want this position?

Multi dating is like being an employer, you’re looking for the right person to fill a role. The first stage is essentially pre-screening, you know… going through their photos and bios (CV), then selecting candidates to match and chat with. I think my record is holding 17 different conversations across 4 apps at one time — I won’t be doing that again! 😬

Then comes the process of elimination. If the conversation is dead, you unmatch. If all goes well and the candidate has kept my interest then they move to second stage (WhatsApp, maybe a phone or video call). A little after this point, if I haven’t blocked them yet, then it’s final stage (setting up a date). Scheduling dates was a bit of a madness… I had to keep a diary to remember who I was seeing and when. Many articles advise letting the other party know that you’re dating around from the start, I don’t think that’s necessary, but that’s just me.

Disclaimer: My definition of multi dating isn’t having a full blown relationship with multiple people. Nor does it mean I get intimate with every single guy at the same time! Once I’m into someone and the feeling is reciprocated, I cut ties with the others.

Conclusion

I think multi dating is kinda long! I guess my attitude around it has changed, I honestly can’t be arsed! These days I’d prefer to invest time in one person. It requires less effort, I don’t get caught up in any complications, it’s an opportunity to get to know someone on a deeper level without other “distractions”, it’s respectful, and if things don’t work out then it’s just a simple case of dropping them, moving on to the next one or chilling! Why make life more difficult right? What’s your take on it?

The hoe life is no life… for me anyway.

Call me old fashioned or boring but with the development of dating apps, we’re now in an era where people skip the niceties, forget about courting, get straight into “DTF?” (Down To Fuck – for those not familiar with the lingo), then it’s off to do your thing and sneak out the morning after.

Hookups have always been on peoples agendas, and I think dating apps have made it easily accessible. If you’re anything like me, someone who has never been interested in a quick bang, it’s easy to get jaded with the world of modern dating. Don’t get me wrong, for those who enjoy the freedom to have casual sex whenever and with whoever, by all means do your thing! I’m certainly not judging.

Each dating app encourages users to make it clear what they’re looking for on their profiles in order to help set expectations on both sides. However, even when you do that… you’ll still get a handful of people that match/message you with other intentions. Of course I can simply choose to ignore or unmatch them, especially when they send distasteful messages. But it’s the ones that play the game, act like they’re looking for something other than a hookup but aren’t completely upfront about what they really want. 🙄 Why? What is the point?

In my opinion, it seems that many people (both men and women) don’t actually know they’re looking for — in which case, these particular individuals should deactivate their accounts and do a bit work on themselves. Alternatively, if a quick romp in the bedroom is what people are after then there are specific apps designed for those after something that isn’t long-term/serious. Sorry folks, I don’t know all the app names but I’d say Feely and Tinder are probably good starting points.

As a female dating app user, you wouldn’t believe just how easy it is to rack up a bunch of men to sleep with. I’m not tooting my own horn here, it’s a fact that women get more matches then men. Basically there are a lot of guys out there who want sex with no strings attached. I don’t use any photos where I’m in a bikini, in tight gym clothing or little “ratchet” outfits… yet I still get ridiculous messages. 🤮 Can you imagine what it’s like for the women who do use fleshy photos? I’ve got to be honest here, when I swipe through my guy friend’s matches, some of these women will put “looking for a relationship” then use pictures with half their breasts out and posing in lingerie. Really? You’re not exactly leaving much to the imagination.

Anyway, we live in a modern society and sexual promiscuity happens; everyone has their own wants/needs. It’s just that my preference is to be in a place where I feel stable, comfortable and not have to deal with the aftermath of emotional messiness. I would much rather be with a person that’ll make me feel good all the time, not just for one day or on occasions.

Casual sex is suited to those who can simply compartmentalise (and not many can). But I also find that these people tend to display quite intense, antagonistic, narcissistic personality traits. I guess you could say it’s kind of similar to the FWB scenario — except you need to remove the element of friendship! So yeah… hookups. Not ideal for those who are an emotional train wreck or those hoping that a relationship will be the end result. Do you agree?